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Incorporating Cascade Reading into the Classroom

by Dr. Jack Dempsey and Michele Landis

How Can Teachers Use Cascade Reading?

Many students continue to struggle with reading even if they’ve mastered word-level decoding abilities, hopefully by way of phonics instruction. However, the science of reading does not stop there – young readers need to be able to understand full sentences as well. This may be hard for many of them due to written language’s relative complexity compared to what they are typically exposed to. That’s where we come in!

The new Cascade Format uses state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) along with our patented algorithms to define syntactic boundaries and relationships before applying line breaks and indentations to reflect the underlying structure of each sentence. The result is a “map to meaning” which makes reading easier and more approachable according to many students who’ve used it.

Our business strategy is to partner with curriculum providers and language applications to bring our research-backed, patented technology to their users en masse. Cascade Reading is already used in over 30 states by teachers on the front lines trying to get students the help they need with reading comprehension. It can be used with any curriculum, and there are already 3 free tools for teachers to make the most of Cascade Reading today:

  • First, the Cascade Lesson Plan Series Series gives teachers what they need to start teaching syntax confidently. This is critical if they have never been taught to teach this.
  • The Cascade Explorer is a dynamic tool that allows teachers to share Cascaded Text, walking through it together, labeling and/or highlighting certain grammatical elements, and taking a deeper dive into the structure of the English language.
  • The Cascade Chrome Extension allows students to read the new Cascade Format in a Web View, automatically transforming text on websites for them. This pairs great with online articles that teachers may share with their students.


In addition to these free tools, we also want to encourage teachers to use Cascade Reading in their classroom in new and creative ways. To help with this, the next few blog posts are going to highlight specific ways in which teachers can use Cascade Reading in their everyday classes!

Classroom Activity: Summarizing Readings

Reading is a core skill that is necessary not only for English Language Arts curriculum but also for all other subjects throughout secondary school as students are expected to acquire knowledge through a great deal of reading (First We Learn to Read & Then We Read to Learn). Summarizing what they learn can help improve their comprehension and is not only limited to the English classroom. Helping students focus on key points in their readings, whether in science, language, or history class, is a skill that could be improved by summarization tasks.

An easy 3-step approach teachers can use to leverage the Cascade Format in helping their students develop their reading summarization skills can look like this:

Step 1
Paste your content into the Cascade Explorer to share with the entire class. (or use one provided in the Passages Library). This tool also makes it easy for you to teach syntax confidently, easily identifying the main points of sentences (i.e., who did what) and parts of speech with your class.

Step 2
As your students read the content you’ve Cascaded for them, encourage them to pay attention to the shape of the sentences. As a general guideline, information that is indented more tends to be more detailed. Paying attention to things like this could help them in their summarization in Step 3.

Step 3
Have students create a paragraph summary for what they’ve read. Then, have students use the Cascade Explorer tool again to transform their summaries for other students, or with the teacher or aide, to read as a group activity. This builds their confidence in both reading and writing, and we’ve seen students love this part, as they start to see themselves not just as readers, but as good ones!

Check out the Cascade Explorer now!

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